DWR’s Innovative Underground Aquifer Mapping Project Reaches Major Milestone: Data Now Available for Entire Central Valley

The Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) innovative Statewide Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) Survey Project has now released AEM data for the entire Central Valley of California, marking a major milestone for the program.

Over 11,500 line-miles of AEM data were collected within the Central Valley between December 2021 and May 2022 using this helicopter-based technology that scans the earth’s subsurface. The AEM data is published on a continual basis, and the most recent release of data from the Northern Sacramento Valley completes the data release for the entire Central Valley. This remarkable dataset provides a never-before-seen continuous view of the structure below the earth’s surface in one of the most groundwater-dependent areas of the world.

Click here to read more from DWR.

DWR: New Data Viewer Allows Public to See the Hidden Groundwater Basins Beneath our Feet and Helps Decision Makers Prepare for Drought Impacts

A helicopter demonstrates how this AEM subterranean survey is conducted to find where water is more likely to exist.. Photo by Andrew Innerarity/ DWR

From the Department of Water Resources:

With California in the third year of a severe drought and facing continued extreme weather swings, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has been developing and using new data and forecasting tools to better anticipate and manage available water supplies.

One new technology that DWR is implementing statewide is collecting airborne electromagnetic (AEM) data across California to better understand the groundwater aquifer structure and to support the state and local goal of sustainable groundwater management. The AEM method is an innovative helicopter-based technology that has been compared to taking an MRI of the subsurface, which helps DWR to better understand underground geology. The resulting underground images provide local groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) with data to identify priority areas for recharging groundwater.

Click here to continue reading from the Department of Water Resources.

DWR Releases Draft California’s Groundwater – Update 2020, Seeks Public Comment

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released the draft California’s Groundwater – Update 2020 (Bulletin-118), containing information on the condition of the State’s groundwater, which is especially important as California faces a critically dry water year. DWR encourages community members and water managers to review the publication and provide input.

This version of California’s Groundwater provides a comprehensive look at statewide groundwater activities, compiling technical information and data from 2003 to 2020. This bulletin recognizes the historic passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014 and builds a statewide framework to share new information and progress made by locals who are managing groundwater basins across the state. It also highlights emerging topics such as water markets and the impacts of climate change on groundwater and summarizes groundwater information for each of the State’s 10 hydrologic regions.

The publication contains a Highlights overview section in English and Spanish, and a detailed Statewide Report, which features current knowledge of groundwater resources including information on the location, characteristics, use, management status, and conditions of the state’s groundwater. The publication also presents findings and recommendations that support the future management and protection of groundwater.

This information can help communities and local water managers work together to find unique ways to manage their groundwater basins for long-term reliability and support actions being implemented as part of Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2020 California Water Resilience Portfolio.

California’s Groundwater is organized to share the growing body of groundwater data that is available now and will continue to be submitted by local agencies in the future as part of the implementation of SGMA.

DWR is developing a companion California’s Groundwater web-based dashboard leveraging the California Natural Resources Agency Open Data Platform to improve the access and timeliness of statewide groundwater information, making it easily available for water managers and the public to use.

California’s Groundwater Information 

Public Webinar Meeting

 DWR will present an overview of California’s Groundwater at a public webinar meeting on March 30, 2021, from noon to 1:30 p.m. RSVP here.

Public Comment Period

 A 45-day public comment period is now open on the draft report and companion California’s Groundwater Online application. All comments will be reviewed and will provide valuable feedback to DWR to improve the analysis, reporting, and access to California’s groundwater information.

Public comments can be emailed to CalGW@water.ca.gov and will be accepted through April 26, 2021.

To review submitted public comments, email CalGW@water.ca.gov.

California’s Groundwater – Update 2020

The final version of California’s Groundwater is expected to be released in summer 2021.

For more information, visit the updated California’s Groundwater webpage.

Coachella Valley groundwater levels show`significant increases’

“Groundwater levels throughout most of the Coachella Valley have increased significantly over the past decade, according to an annual analysis released today by the local water district.

The Coachella Valley Water District submitted two annual reports for the 2017-18 water year to the California Department of Water Resources, one on the Indio Subbasin and the other on the Mission Creek Subbasin, which make up most of the valley’s aquifer. … ”

Read more from Channel 3 here:  Coachella Valley groundwater levels show`significant increases’

The drought’s over? Sure. But our hydrological bank account is still drained, says the LA Times

They write,

“California had a wet November, a moist December, an absolutely drenched January and February, and so far a fairly watery March. Los Angeles exceeded its average annual rainfall a month ago, less than halfway into the “water year” (which runs from October through the following September). The Sierra snowpack is at more than 150% of average. The state is soaked.

So how come the U.S. Drought Monitor waited until Wednesday to declare California drought free for the first time in seven years? Hasn’t he been paying attention? And who is that guy, anyway? … ”

Read more from the LA Times here:  The drought’s over? Sure. But our hydrological bank account is still drained

Report says Napa County’s 2018 groundwater levels stable

“Napa Valley’s annual groundwater checkup concluded that water levels in a majority of monitoring wells were stable in spring 2018, despite a drop in overall groundwater storage following a subpar rainy season.

The valley’s vast underground reservoir that farmers tap to irrigate the region’s world-famous vineyards held an estimated 210,000 acre-feet of water. That’s about seven times as much water contained in a full Lake Hennessey. … ”

Read more from the Napa Register here: Report says Napa County’s 2018 groundwater levels stable

Livermore: Wet winter helps replenish groundwater supplies

“With our streams and rivers running fast and high and all the snow piling up in the High Sierra, it certainly looks like California is well out of the drought, but what about beneath the surface?

“Right now our basin, fortunately, is at 98 percent full,” said Carol Mahoney, Manager of Integrated Water Services for Zone 7, the water supply and flood control agency that serves Livermore and the Amador Valley. … ”

Read more from KGO here:  Wet winter helps replenish groundwater supplies

Bill Patzert says not so fast with declaring drought over; groundwater recovery could take years

“We’re having one of the best rainfall seasons in years, with drought conditions easing for much of the state.  But one of the nation’s leading oceanographers says there’s much more involved before the impacts of the drought are completely gone, and that it could take years to replenish groundwater supplies.

Former NASA oceanographer Dr. Bill Patzert says while we had the possibility of El Nino conditions going into the rainfall season, which could have magnified rain amounts, it didn’t happen. Patzert says El Nino was “El No-Show”. … ”

Read more from KCLU here:  Patzert says not so fast with declaring drought over; groundwater recovery could take years

ASU scientists using latest space technology to assess the health of a large aquifer system in California’s San Joaquin Valley

“A team of Arizona State University scientists has been using the latest space technology, combined with ground measurements, to assess the health of one of the nation’s most important sources of underground water, a large aquifer system located in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

The team, comprised of School of Earth and Space Exploration researchers Chandrakanta Ojha, Susanna Werth and Manoochehr Shirzaei, focused on the San Joaquin Valley’s most recent drought period, from 2012 to 2015, measuring both groundwater loss and aquifer storage loss. The results of their findings have been recently published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. … ”

Read more from Arizona State University here:  ASU scientists using latest space technology to assess the health of a large aquifer system in California’s San Joaquin Valley

In this water-starved California town, one citrus farmer is trying to hang on

From the Desert Sun:

“Citrus groves spread out in rows across the desert in Borrego Springs, forming a lush green oasis against a backdrop of bone-dry mountains. When the grapefruit and lemon trees bloom on Jim Seley’s farm, the white blossoms fill the air with their sweet scent.  His father founded the farm in 1957, and Seley has been farming here since 1964. He and his son, Mike, manage the business, and they hope to pass it on to the next generation of Seleys.

But the farms of Borrego Springs, like the town and its golf courses, rely completely on groundwater pumped from the desert aquifer. And it’s unclear whether farming will be able to survive in this part of the Southern California desert west of the Salton Sea in San Diego County. … ”

Read more from the Desert Sun here:  In this water-starved California town, one citrus farmer is trying to hang on